Everybody has a name, something that someone else calls them or a tag that they’ve attatched to themselves. It can’t be avoided.

But how to we assign meaningful names to characters in our work? I’m sure you’ve read a passage somewhere and thought Man, where did they come up with that? Just the other day, my husband read a piece of flash fiction I’ve been working on and says, “You and your names. I just don’t know where you get them.”

Here’s the thing: you have to watch for them. Names are all around us and go unnoticed until we need them, until they aren’t there.

Stuck on a Character Name?

Here’s some places to find them!

  1. Name Generators – They’re all over and easily found online. This one offers ten options for each category and has hundreds of possibilities. It’s broken down into genre, character or creature race, place names and a whole bunch more.
  2. Name Dictionary – I know, it seems sort of bleh, but a name dictionary is still an option if your brain just isn’t working. This site offers names by region or ethnicity, as well as an etymology of popular names.
  3. Watch a Movie – Seriously, watch a movie with a notebook on hand. Or just jump to the credits. There’s all sorts of gems in the scrolling blocks of names, just waiting to be noticed. Some of the most interesting tags I’ve found came from the people that work in the movie industry and aren’t actors.
  4. Language Translator – Good old Google Translate can instantly take any word in English and translate it to dozens of languages. Looking to sound scientific? Pick a work for it’s meaning and translate it into Latin. This trick also works great for feminine names.

Name List

Science Fiction

Female Identifying

  1. Talimaka Starhammer
  2. Kariena Vanlance
  3. Frenchie Calabini
  4. Iris Historia
  5. Formositas Libitina

Male Identifying

  1. Harold Hagglemen
  2. Nex Gladius
  3. Jason Demetri
  4. Adstrum Deleon
  5. Gailen Rionnag

Robots

  1. B-501
  2. Mother – or some variation there of, instantly identifiable
  3. Ticker
  4. 10.01
  5. Clanks

Fantasy

Female Identifying

  1. Lilliandra Gladesong
  2. Casideena Bonebreaker
  3. Sindrel Standtal
  4. Pluck Brim
  5. Baladine Kenesi

Male Identifying

  1. Grogg Gape-tooth
  2. Brok Battleborne
  3. Lainesil Ithrendell
  4. Visian Candlemaker
  5. Claudius Odium

Gender Neutral

  1. Timlyn Turks
  2. Backelmore Branick
  3. Call Flemmings
  4. Fuath Leat
  5. Seach Draiocht

Go ahead and use them, that’s what they’re here for!

Additional Thoughts

Villains – Your bad guys need names too, memorable ones. I’ve found that the most mind sticking bad guys have a single or double syllable name like Ash or Joker, Magnus or Clasp. Villains also tend to have an “S” sound in their name. I think the habit comes from a basic human instinct to be cautious of creatures that hiss.

Monsters – Villains and monsters are different in that villains actively plan on destruction while monsters are just sort of doing their thing. Because of that, we don’t see the same naming tenancies for monsters as we would for actual human or human-type antagonists. A super strong mage named Rockbaby isn’t nearly as scary as a creature that crawls out from under stones in the middle of the night, into a sleepers ear, and starts munching on their brain.

Genre Conventions and Tropes – Remember to think about reader expectations. Each genre and sub-genre contains certain codes, some spoken or unspoken rules about naming characters and places. Consider hobbit names, they often contain food or belly references. Elven names consist of a lot of “L” sounds, nature references, and the female versions often end in an “A.” Barbarians as a class or tribe tend towards names with several repeated vowels, like Balatook, and lots of “B”s, “K”s, and “T”s. We also see Viking sounding names like Ragnar. Here is a site that might help.

Have a great one!

~Sarah

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